FRC Robot Test Run – February 18, 2012

The fourth annual test run gears up from 9 am to 3 pm, Saturday, February 18, at Isthmus Engineering & Manufacturing, 4035 Owl Creek Drive, Madison (map). Guest FRC teams from Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Platteville and BadgerBOTS Team 1306 team members from Madison Memorial, Memorial West, Middleton-Cross Plains, and Verona high schools tune up their robots and skills to compete March 22-24 in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Robotics Competition in Milwaukee, WI.

These industrial-sized robots will compete in a Rebound RumbleSM game played on a 27-foot-by-54-foot field built by Isthmus engineers and volunteer team mentors. The Rebound Rumble robotics game is played between two Alliances of three teams each. Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many of the basketballs in the hoops as possible during the 2-minute and 15-second match. Balls scored in higher hoops score Alliances more points. Alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges at the end of the match. In matches where opponent Alliances work together to balance on the white bridge, all participating teams earn additional valuable seeding points.

“We invite teams to the test run to bounce around ideas with engineers and other teams as well as make new friends,” says Tom Vermeulen, 17, team president, a senior at Madison’s Memorial High School.

Students have spent six weeks building robots from identical kits of parts, including motors, batteries, a control system and a mix of automation components, but NO instructions.

“It gives the kids a chance to learn real-world problems,” says Rob Washenko, GE Healthcare Engineer and volunteer mentor in the program. “The students are faced with lots of details. The test gives them an opportunity to put the robot through a real game arena. They get to learn team work and they get to have a lot of fun.”

Isthmus engineers are on hand to help the student think through and repair glitches in their robots before the building season concludes on Tuesday.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a “varsity sport for the mind” that offers students real-life lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and an opportunity to work with engineering mentors from large and small companies who volunteer in the program.

Fifty-one teams from Wisconsin and neighboring states have spent $6,000 each to register for Milwaukee’s regional contest that begins Thursday, March 22, at Milwaukee’s US Cellular Arena. It’s one of  56 regional competitions throughout the world. Winners will go on to the World FIRST Championship April 25-28 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Engineers, scientists and business executives from Madison companies, including GE Healthcare, UW-Madison, Department of Health Services, and Synchrotron Radiation Center have invested hundreds of volunteer hours in the student-led, mentor-guided program. They have spent five nights a week coaching students as they develop hands-on experience in science, engineering, technology and math.

Students participating in the program are eligible for more than $14 million in college scholarships from 130 colleges and universities, including Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

FIRST is a concept launched in 1989 by Dean Kamen, a Manchester, N.H., inventor of medical devices and the Segway electric scooter who was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his biomedical devices and for making engineering more popular among high school students.

The test run is open to the public. Please feel free to join us from 9 am to 3 pm.